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Guardians report no new COVID-19 cases that prompted postponement of Wednesday’s road game vs. White Sox

Guardians manager Terry Francona remained on the COVID-19 protocol after testing positve during an outbreak on the team, which reported no new cases on Thursday. Pitching coach Carl Willis will serve as interim manager when the Guardians resume play Friday in a weekend series in Minneapolis vs. the Twins.Tony Dejak/Associated Press

The Cleveland Guardians reported no new COVID-19 cases Thursday, a day after an outbreak inside their clubhouse caused a postponement in Chicago and sent manager Terry Francona and five coaches home from a road trip.

The team said pitching coach Carl Willis will serve as the club’s acting manager for a three-game series this weekend in Minnesota. Willis pitched for the Twins from 1991-95.

Guardians president of baseball operations Chris Antonetti said in a statement that the team, which was off Thursday, will continue to test personnel and conduct contact tracing.

Antonetti said Willis “will be supported by other individuals throughout the organization until the members of our coaching staff are able to rejoin the team.”

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To this point, no players have tested positive with the virus.

Francona, 63, learned he was positive on Wednesday about two hours before the scheduled first pitch. Soon after, Major League Baseball scrapped the Guardians’ series finale against the White Sox — the first postponement in the majors by coronavirus-related issues in 2022 — so more testing could be done.

Francona was placed in health and safety protocols along with bench coach DeMarlo Hale, first base coach Sandy Alomar, third base coach Mike Sarbaugh, hitting coach Chris Valaika, assistant pitching coach Joe Torres and hitting analyst Justin Toole.

Brown’s homer sparks A’s past Tigers

Seth Brown hit a tiebreaking, two-run homer in the eighth inning and the Oakland Athletics beat the Detroit Tigers, 5-3, in Comerica Park.

Michael Fulmer (1-2) got the first two outs of the eighth, but Jed Lowrie drew a walk and Brown homered to right on a 92-m.p.h. fastball. The Tigers have lost nine of 10.

Oakland came to Comerica Park this week with a nine-game losing streak, but won four times in an unusual five-game series.

“Coming here on Sunday night, I think we were all pretty frustrated with how we were playing,” A’s manager Mark Kotsay said. “The guys made some adjustments and it obviously paid off. It feels good to be back on track.”

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A.J. Puk (1-0) pitched two scoreless innings for his first win since topping Kansas City on Sept. 17, 2019. He missed the 2020 season with shoulder issues and was limited to 13⅓ innings in 2021.

“A.J. has been phenomenal — he’s pitching as well as he has since he was drafted,” Kotsay said. “We talked throughout spring training about my expectations and the progress he needed to show to stay here, and he’s done everything I’ve asked.”

Dany Jimenez pitched the ninth for his sixth save in six opportunities.

Miguel Cabera made it 3-all in the Detroit sixth with his 601st career double, tying Barry Bonds for 17th all-time. Jeimer Candelario opened the inning with a triple off Domingo Acevedo and scored on Cabrera’s 3,014th career hit.

Oakland starter James Kaprielian allowed two runs on three hits and three walks in five innings.

“I didn’t have my best stuff, which hurt the team today, but the guys picked me up,” he said. “That’s what I expect from this group. I never doubted that, as bad as things got last week.”

Astros win makeup vs. Twins

Jose Altuve homered, doubled and drove in three runs as the Houston Astros piled on when play resumed, beating the host Minnesota Twins, 11-3, in the completion of a suspended game.

The Astros led, 5-1, after three innings on Wednesday night when the game was suspended due to heavy rain and lightning. The teams were to play their regularly scheduled game later Thursday.

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Twins manger Rocco Baldelli was back in the dugout after missing a week due to COVID-19. Bench coach Jayce Tingler had been running the team in his absence.

Jose Altuve powered the Astros past the Twins Thursday.Craig Lassig/Associated Press

Kyle Tucker also homered and Jeremy Peña had two hits and drove in three runs for the Astros, who have taken the first two games of the series.

Bryan Abreu (2-0) earned the victory in relief of José Urquidy, who gave up one run over three innings before the game was suspended. Abreu allowed one run and struck out four in two innings pitched.

Chris Archer (0-1) gave up four earned runs on five hits and three walks in three innings.

Twins utilityman Nick Gordon, son of former major league pitcher Tom Gordon, made his first major league appearance on the mound in the ninth inning. He gave up a single to Peña, but retired Tucker on a popup and Jose Siri and Martin Maldonado on infield grounders.

Orioles edge Cardinals

Rylan Bannon became just the third Baltimore player since 2000 to get a hit on the first pitch of his big league career, Jorge Mateo and Anthony Bemboom homered and the Orioles beat the host St. Louis Cardinals, 3-2.

“I let him know he’s in the big leagues an hour before the game, " Baltimore manager Brandon Hyde said of Bannon. “So, he’ll never forget that. I know it’s a special day for him and his family.”

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Bannon, a 26-year-old third baseman, was recalled from Triple-A Norfolk before the game and singled on a pitch from Steven Matz (3-3) with two outs in the second inning, one batter after Mateo homered to put the Orioles ahead.

“I trusted the scouting report. I stuck to my approach,” Bannon said. “I got a pitch middle and put a good swing on it. It was a fastball right down the middle.”

Bannon went 1 for 4 with a strikeout and two flyouts. The 2017 Big East Player of the Year at Xavier, Bannon was selected by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the eighth round of the 2017 amateur draft and traded to Baltimore in July 2018 in the deal that brought Manny Machado to the Los Angeles Dodgers.

“I felt really like I didn’t get my feet under me until the fifth or so inning,” Bannon said. “After a couple of at-bats, that’s when it really sunk in where I was. It was a weird feeling being out there early in the game. It was awesome. It’s definitely good to be here. It’s cool to be here in the locker room.”

The previous Orioles to get a hit on their first pitch were Rhyne Hughes on April 24, 2010, at Boston and Willie Morales on April 9, 2000, against Detroit, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

Baltimore took two of three from the Cardinals and improved to 4-1 in rubber games this season after going 7-5 in such games in 2021.

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Benintendi heads to arbitration

Outfielder Andrew Benintendi went to arbitration with the Kansas City Royals on Thursday, asking for $8.5 million instead of the team’s $7.3 million offer.

A decision by the panel of Mark Burstein, Keith Greenberg and Steven Wolf is expected Friday, along with a decision in the case of Seattle second baseman Adam Frazier, which was heard by a different panel on May 2 in the first of this year’s lockout-delayed hearings.

Benintendi, 27, who made $6.6 million last season and is eligible for free agency after this year’s World Series, declined comment on the hearing before Thursday’s game at Texas.

Andrew Benintendi is asking for $8.5 million in arbitration.LM Otero/Associated Press

He hit .276 with 17 homers and 73 RBIs last year, earning a Gold Glove in his first season with the Royals. He was acquired from Boston in February 2021 as part of a three-team trade that also involved the New York Mets.

In the first two decisions this year, the Atlanta Braves beat third baseman Austin Riley, who will be paid $3.95 million instead of $4.25 million, and the St. Louis Cardinals defeated outfielder Tyler O’Neill, who will get $3.4 million rather than $4.15 million. A decision also remains pending for Milwaukee right-hander Adrian Houser.

Fifteen additional players are eligible for arbitration, with hearings scheduled through June 24, including Atlanta outfielder Adam Duvall, pitcher Max Fried and Dansby Swanson, Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge, Mets pitcher Chris Bassitt, Minnesota catcher Gary Sánchez and Philadelphia pitcher Zach Eflin.